In recent years, states have passed an increasing number of restrictions on abortion, and some of these restrictions result in women being unable to obtain wanted abortions. As these women enter prenatal care, it follows that they may have unique health and social service needs. In this study, we conducted both surveys and structured interviews with women entering prenatal care in Louisiana, a state with considerable restrictions on abortion, and Maryland, a state with almost no restrictions on the procedure, to understand their pregnancy intentions and health and social service needs.
The most commonly reported social service needs included referrals for WIC, food stamps, dental care, and housing assistance. Women in Louisiana were more likely to report needing a greater number of these referrals. Women who considered an abortion for their current pregnancy were more likely to report a need for these services.
As states continue to enact restrictions on abortion, both policy makers and public health professionals must consider how to expand social services to meet the health and social services needs of women denied or unable to obtain wanted abortions.
The publication, "The Health and Social Service Needs of Pregnant Women Who Consider but Do Not Have Abortions," is available fromWomen's Health Issues.
For a summary of our results, download our infographic"Prenatal Care: An Appropriate Place to Discuss Abortion, Pregnancy Options, and Social Service Needs."